The experience of spirituality in the well adult: A phenomenological study




Burns, Paulette

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This phenomenological study had three purposes: (a) to identify the essential elements of spirituality in the well adult, (b) to develop a descriptive explanation of spirituality, and (c) to validate the framework of spirituality proposed by Burns (1988). The purposive sample of 10 participants ranged in age from 31 to 48 years, and gave self-reports of excellent or good health.

The descriptions and meanings of spirituality, obtained through participant interviews, were analyzed using Giorgi's (1985) four-step method. The essential elements of spirituality in the well adult were found to be: the philosophy of the interrelationship between the Infinite and human, essenergy permeability, precipitating event, depth experience, interpretation of meaning(s) of depth experience, human responses, and life-changing. Spirituality was defined as the striving for and/or being infused with the reality of the interconnectedness among self, other human beings, and the Infinite that occurs during a depth experience and results in a life change. When compared with the proposed model, the attributes of essenergy, values and beliefs, interconnectedness, and self-integration were supported, but in a more complex and differently ordered manner than the original model. The attributes of spiritual development and individuation were indirectly supported in the new model as the essential element of philosophy.

Results of the study indicated that a person can influence the accessibility of his or her own spiritual dimension through specific practices such as meditation, relaxation, or prayer. This element was labeled essenergy permeability, and was found to be influenced by the element of philosophy of the interrelationship between the Infinite and humans. A depth experience was found to occur as the result of a precipitating crisis event or extraquotidian event involving the self or a valued other. The results suggested a person cannot manipulate a depth experience, but when the experience occurs, it is perceived as real. A pervasive sense of positiveness in feelings and actions followed the depth experience, with or without positive resolution of the crisis. The sense of growth or life-changing nature of the experience, indicated an opportune time for support and encouragement of new behaviors. Recommendations for further study focused primarily on testing of the generated model.



Well adult, Religion, Spirituality, Mental Health, Values and beliefs